Friday, February 20, 2009

Obama Wrong On Afghanistan

Now that the euphoria over Barack Obama's visit to Canada has had time to wear off its easier to take a step back and examine exactly what was said. A large part of the conversation and coverage had to do with Canada's mission in Afghanistan, with Obama heaping praise on Canadians for our commitment and sacrifice, with over 100 of our service men and women killed.

The new President has a ton of political capital to expend, and with his combination of charm, charisma and intellect its difficult to take exception to any of his initiatives. What a contrast to George W. Bush! Even on those very rare occasions where 'Dubya' actually got something right (nothing springs to mind immediately) you still wanted to oppose the dullard regardless.

But make no mistake about it, Obama is wrong on Afghanistan. And while we're not yet being asked to extend our mission date beyond 2011, only a fool would believe that request isn't coming. Obama's handling of this issue has been masterful, going to great lengths to laud our efforts while not even hinting that Ottawa will be asked to extend our combat operations. Like a good manager who lavishes praise, it will make it very difficult if not impossible to refuse when the eventual request does come. And when it does come, Canada should say no...we shouldn't even be there now.
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Everyone knows the old saw, 'those who fail to recognize the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them'. Former U.S. NATO commander Dan McNeill is on record as saying that if counterinsurgency doctrine were properly followed NATO would need 400,000 troops to win this war. The Soviets sent in almost 200,000 soldiers backed by about 200,000 more Afghan communist forces when they invaded...and the Soviets were still forced to withdraw.

And why are we there? Obama's tack has been to categorize Afghanistan as a potential incubator for terrorists, one that must not be allowed to resurrect itself under the leadership of the Taliban. This is the same Taliban which enjoyed friendly relations with the United States up until their refusal to approve a U.S. led consortium's bid to build a massive natural gas pipeline. Obvioulsy there's the whole 9/11 issue, but that attack could have been used for justification to invade any number of nations, including U.S. client state Saudi Arabia...which is Osama Bin Laden's country of origin.

Things are bad in Afghanistan and getting worse. Supply routes are so vulnerable to attack that Washington is cutting deals with countries like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, nations which could easily be labeled 'terrorist states' were they not complying with Washington's foreign policies.

Here we are in the midst of a global economic meltdown that's being compared to the Great Depression...yet both Canadian and US taxpayers are footing a bill in the billions of dollars to secure natural gas and oil pipeline routes. The cost in terms of dollars and human lives is only going to climb higher and higher. Obama is talking about increasing U.S. troop numbers by 30,000 to 60,000....that's a long way from the needed 400,000.

I blogged on this previously here: Afghanistan’s Pipeline – Canada’s War

You can read about General McNeill's comments on troop levels back in June 2008 on BBC: Nato 'needs more' in Afghanistan

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